2015 Green Lands
Blue Waters Conference

Bridges and Buffers, Farms and Cities:
Continuous Living Cover Farming Systems


Grazing & Perennial Forage Session

November 3, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm -- Room 323

Session Summary:

Join this session for a rousing discussion of the intersection of economics with the integration of livestock into cropping systems. It is challenging to understand the economics of complex farming systems that deal with multiple types of markets and income streams; yet understanding this is critical for finding effective ways of increasing perennial forages and grazing on the landscape. What are the economics of adding perennials to a crop rotation? What are the economics of raising a grazing animal on an integrated crop and livestock farm? How do these integrated systems become and remain financially viable? Where are gaps in the economics research on these topics?



John WestraJohn Westra, Louisiana State University



John Westra is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness at the LSU AgCenter. He conducts research and delivers extension programs on agriculture and environmental policy impacts on farm management decisions. Current research is designed to increase our understanding of the linkages of human and natural systems in agricultural landscapes to water quality. He is currently involved with the Chippewa 10% Project in west-central Minnesota and the STRIPS project in Iowa – both efforts to increase perennial cover in agricultural landscapes. Extension efforts include serving as Project Director for the annual Louisiana Summary and serving as Project Director for the Louisiana MarketMaker Program – a nationally award-winning initiative that gives consumers better access to fresh, local foods and farmers more opportunities for profitability through multiple marketing channels. He received a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Minnesota (2001), an M.S. in Agricultural Economics at the University of Maine (1991), and a B.A. in Psychology at Grinnell College in Grinnell Iowa (1984).



Matt LiebmanMatt Liebman, Iowa State University



Matt Liebman is a professor of agronomy and the H.A. Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University. He received an A.B. in biological sciences from Harvard in 1978 and a Ph.D. in botany from the University of California-Berkeley in 1986. He became a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy in 2009 and was a member of the National Academies committee that produced the 2015 report titled “A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System.” His research, teaching, and outreach activities focus on ways to increase soil, water, and wildlife conservation in farming systems, while reducing dependence on agrichemicals and fossil fuels. Specific interests include diversified cropping systems, weed management, and the use of native prairie species for soil, water, and wildlife conservation and biofuel production. Matt is a member of the board of directors for Wheatsfield Cooperative Grocery in Ames, Iowa, which has 65 employees and more than 5,000 owner-members.



Gene SchrieferGene Schriefer, University of Wisconsin Extension



Gene Schriefer has been the Agriculture Agent with the University of Wisconsin – Extension for the past 6 years working primarily in Iowa County in the Driftless Region. He organizes and leads the Southwest Wisconsin grazing network which hosts a dozen pasture walks a season and the spring and fall grazing workshops. He is an early adaptor and advocate for cover crops and mixtures for improving soil health. Prior to his extension position, he was the Grazing Specialist for Southwest Badger RC&D developing grazing management plans and grazing education for farmers and land owners in the seven southwestern counties of the Driftless region. Gene owns and manages a small farm in Dodgeville, WI grazing a white faced, commercial flock and crossbred beef herd focused on grass finished beef. Grazing is a life-long passion since adolescence.



Jim MunschJim Munsch, Independent Grazing Consultant



Jim Munsch is an independent small farm consultant. He specializes in helping farmers make data-driven decisions aimed at operating profitability. As a result of this consulting he has developed cost and performance systems for diversified fresh vegetable growers, pasture-based dairy operators, grass-fed and conventional beef producers and diversified food producers. His work with vegetable farmers lead to the Veggie Compass tool for management information on multi-vegetable market farms which is now applied from the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at the University of Wisconsin (CIAS.) He helped co-produce with Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group the Growing Farm Profits training for multiple vegetable market farms. And he supports a few beginning farmer training programs including that at the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers.

Jim has been grazing Angus beef cattle in Vernon County in Wisconsin’s part of the Driftless region for 35 years evolving it into a managed grazing, grass fed beef cow/calf and finishing operation.



Dick Cates on farm with Cates cattle blank white space

Richard (Dick) L. Cates, Jr., Ph.D., and his wife, Kim, co-own and operate the Cates Family Farm LLC near Spring Green, Wisconsin, a managed grazing, direct-market grass-fed beef business they started in 1987. Dick holds a Senior Lecturer position in the Department of Soil Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is director of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers, a business and training program for start-up farmers which he helped create in 1995, and he co-teaches courses in grassland- and agro-ecology, pasture management, and managed grazing.

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Dick recently served on the WI DATCP Board of Directors and the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Council for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers, and presently serves on his local River Valley Board of Education and the Southwest WI Community Action Board of Directors. He is a member of the WI Farm Bureau Federation, Farmers Union and Cattlemen’s Association, River Alliance of WI, GrassWorks, Friends of the Lower WI Riverway, Driftless Area land Conservancy, Aldo Leopold Foundation, and the Spring Green Lions Club. He has worked internationally as a volunteer consultant with farmer-to-farmer assistance projects, most recently in Azerbaijan, China, Honduras, Mexico, Moldova, and South Africa. His book, Voices from the Heart of the Land: Rural Stories that Inspire Community (2008; University of Wisconsin Press), is based on conversations with elder rural citizens around their values about character and care for our land and rural community. The Cates family was recognized recently with the 2013 Sand County and WI Farm Bureau Federation Leopold Conservation Award for Wisconsin.


This session is hosted by Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group (MPFWG).


Laura Paine, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship

Terry VanDerPol, Land Stewarship Project




Laura PaineLaura Paine, Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship



Laura Paine has been involved in Wisconsin’s sustainable agriculture community in a variety of roles for more than 20 years. She coordinated on-farm research on managed grazing at the University of Wisconsin, College of Agriculture from 1992 to 1999 and served seven years as Extension Agriculture Agent for Columbia County, WI. From 2006 to 2014, she served as Grazing & Organic Agriculture Specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Paine is currently Program Director for the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship, a formalized, nationally accredited training program for beginning dairy farmers. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Botany from Southern Illinois University, a Master’s Degree in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin, and is a Certified Educator for Holistic Management International. She and her husband raise and direct market grass-fed beef on their farm near Columbus, Wisconsin.



Terry VanDerPolTerry VanDerPol, Land Stewardship Project



Terry VanDerPol grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm in western Minnesota. After studying Sociology and Psychology at the University of Mn –Morris, she worked in human services for about 15 years and came back to agriculture by joining as a member and a staff person of Land Stewardship Project. She also has a grass fed cattle operation in partnership with her brother, Jim VanDerPol and great-nephew Andy VanDerPol. She has worked with farmers in western Minnesota monitoring biological outcomes of various practices, and developing sustainable livestock systems. She currently directs the Community Based Food Systems program that works to construct food and farming systems to steward soil tilth, community health and wealth. The program’s work in the Root river watershed in southeast Minnesota and in the Chippewa watershed in western Minnesota works with farmers and landowners to find profitable ways to steward the soil and water through cover crops, building soil health, increasing diverse rotations and increasing perennials on sensitive land.


Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group staff:



Jane JewettJane Grimsbo Jewett, Green Lands Blue Waters & Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture



Jane Jewett is a Research Fellow with the University of Minnesota and provides staff support to the Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group on behalf of Green Lands Blue Waters. She has been on staff with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture since 1999. She has a B.S. in Agronomy and M.S. in Plant Breeding from the University of Minnesota, with a background in forages research. Jane grew up on a beef cattle farm in northern Minnesota and now lives and farms in the same area, raising grass-fed beef, hogs and poultry for direct-market; and serves as president of the Grand Rapids, MN farmers' market.

Midwest Perennial Forage Working Group includes representatives of these organizations:


Agricultural Watersheds Institute blank white space Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems logo blank white space Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship logo
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Fillmore SWCD logo blank white space Glacierland RC & D logo blank white space Grazing Lands Conservation Association MN logo


Iowa Beef Center logo blank white space Land Stewardship Project logo blank white space Pasture Project logo


Practical Farmers of Iowa blank white space Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota blank white space University of Guelph Ontario blank white space University of Illinois Extension


University of Minnesota Extension
Dairy Extension
blank white space University of Wisconsin Extension


Wisconsin Farmers Union blank white space Ecological Gardens blank white space Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture


University of Minnesota Extension
Agroforestry Program

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